Charlie Roach was born in Belmont, Trinidad. His father was a trade union organizer and his mother instrumental in his spiritual development. The family began as Protestant Anglicans, and through her influence, eventually became Roman Catholic. Charlie’s mother wanted her children to have an excellent education and, in her view, that consisted of attending one of the best schools in the country – St. Mary’s College – which both Charlie and another brother eventually attended.
For 50 years, the human rights lawyer, activist, artist, musician and Caribana founder has campaigned to make Toronto a more equitable place. Now, Roach is being recognized for having inspired several generations of activists, and helping to alter the city’s political culture.
Canada’s black Parliamentarians say a greater effort is needed at both the grassroots level and within the corridors of political power to bring greater diversity to Parliament.
February is Black History Month in Canada, and while the department of Citizenship and Immigration encourages the Canadian public to “honour the legacy of black Canadians, past and present,” African-Canadians remain underrepresented in Canada’s Parliament. There are currently three Senators and two Members of Parliament, but the African-Canadian population numbers 900,000. It would take six more MPs to accurately reflect Canada’s black population in the House of Commons.
“If we’re going to have two-elected Chambers the real issue is how to find a way for more African-Canadians to get into political parties and win nominations so that they can run for a seat,” said Conservative Senator Don Oliver, who told The Hill Times that political parties have the power to welcome and support not only blacks, but visible minorities in general. “That kind of outreach has been lacking,” Sen. Oliver said.
A new decision by the Law Society of Upper Canada that considered a black lawyer’s disadvantage in his articling experiences could hold the key to a frank discussion on systemic discrimination in the profession, according to lawyers familiar with the ruling.
‘The law society has never acknowledged the racism we face in trying to find articling positions or other employment,’ says Osborne Barnwell, who represented Selwyn McSween. Photo: Laura Pedersen
Although a law society appeal panel found Toronto real estate lawyer Selwyn McSween guilty of professional misconduct for “completely abdicating his professional responsibility” to an allegedly unscrupulous law clerk, dissenting appeal panellists Clayton Ruby and Constance Backhouse acknowledged the 66-year-old man from Trinidad faced “systemic disadvantages” that eventually led him to hire the clerk and ultimately to “an increased risk of disbarment.”
Last summer, after returning from a cross-border trip to Toronto, a friend of mine asked: “What’s wrong with Canada?” It’s a question she and I have considered over the years as we’ve worked to establish ourselves as black women writers and scholars. Rosamond is a poet/performance artist/activist. I met her in graduate school at New York University, where she wrote her dissertation on Caribbean immigrant literature, including texts by Canadian authors Dionne Brand and Austin Clarke.
For most of January, we’ve been discussing Half-Blood Blues in The Globe and Mail’s first online book club. On Monday, our special guest, prize-winning author Esi Edugyan, will join us at noon ET to wrap up our ongoing conversation about the novel.
I have always been one who enjoys intellectual conversations. I have an opinion on just about everything, and I love opinionated people. I do not believe that my perspective is always right, so I am open to being challenged, and potentially learning from these conversations; there’s really no right or wrong, just a bunch of differing opinions and outlooks.
Throwing taxpayer dollars at recreation centres and basketball gives political leaders a false sense of accomplishment. If political and community leaders really want to help young people in troubled neighborhoods break the cycle of high unemployment, teenage pregnancy and poverty that provide fertile breeding environments for gangs, they should stop building basketball courts and recreation centres.
The Bush administration detained and tortured suspected militants; the Obama administration assassinates them. Both practices not only visit more hatred upon the United States; they are also illegal. Our laws and treaties prohibit torture. The Constitution forbids the government from depriving any person of life without due process of law; that is, arrest and fair trial. Yet President Obama has approved the killing of people, many of whom were not even identified before the kill order was given.
When asked about his overarching goal for writing his autobiography, A Struggle to Walk with Dignity – The True Story of a Jamaican-born Canadian, Gerald Archambeau responds, “To inspire youth to never give up on the goodness of human beings regardless of race.” With this aspiration in mind, Archambeau has donated a collection of his works – a memoir and three scrapbooks – to Clara Thomas Archives and Special Collections.
As the Olympics beckons and the global spotlight is cast upon the Caribbean's world-class athletes for a typical show of stop-watch beating excellence, another team of industry pioneers are set to descend upon the United Kingdom to make their own stylish mark and illustrate that the Caribbean has more to offer than just sports stars.
The exhibition will culminate in a private dinner with international fashion and musical icon Grace Jones.
Matt Galloway of CBC Radio One in Toronto, spoke with Akwasi Owusu-Bempah. He is a PhD candidate at the U of T's Centre for Criminology, and co-author of a paper called "Whitewashing Criminal Justice in Canada: Preventing Research through Data Suppression".
Pop quiz: What unfortunate distinction does Olivier Le Jeune hold in Canadian history?Le Jeune was the first recorded black slave in New France, brought to Canada from Africa in the 17th century when he was a child.
If you didn’t know the answer, you aren’t alone.
The story of blacks in Canada doesn’t form part of the national narrative and is outside the mainstream of what most people learn, says Lawrence Hill, author of the acclaimed historical novel The Book of Negroes.
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